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Bodies of missing surfers from Australia, U.S. found with bullet wounds, Mexican officials say

Bodies of missing surfers identified
Bodies of three surfers who went missing in Mexico identified, suspects in custody 01:42

The bodies of three surfers — two Australians and an American — who went missing last weekend were found with gunshot wounds, Baja California state prosecutors said Sunday.

Officials confirmed the bodies found last week belonged to the missing surfers, María Elena Andrade Ramírez, the Baja California state attorney general, said Sunday. Officials had initially been waiting for DNA testing to confirm the remains found belonged to the surfers, but the victims' relatives were able to identify the bodies, Andrade Ramírez said.

The Australian victims were identified by the Mexican government as Jake and Callum Robinson and the American was identified as Jack Carter Rhoad.

Three suspects, two men and one woman, have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the case, according to Mexican prosecutors. One of those arrested has a history of violence, drug dealing and robbery, officials said.

The FBI confirmed three bodies were found on Friday. Mexican officials said the bodies were found in a well that's more than 50 feet deep. A fourth body was found in the well, but authorities said they don't believe the final body is related to the missing surfers. The bodies were found in the town of Santa Tomas in the Mexican state of Baja California.

In a statement to CBS News, the FBI said it "continues to work with our international law enforcement partners in resolving this ongoing situation" and has been in contact with the family of the American victim.

"While we cannot comment on specifics to preserve the sanctity of the investigative and legal processes, along with protecting the privacy of those impacted, we can assure you that we are assessing every tip. If credible, we will pursue those leads with rigor," the FBI said.

The missing Australians and their American friend were last seen in late April, officials said. Investigators examined the area where the surfers had been camping in Mexico. They found tent poles, a cartridge casing, plastic gallon bottles, blood stains and drag marks.

Andrade Ramírez said it's believed the victims were attacked for their truck. She said the killers drove by and saw the foreigners' pickup truck and tents, and wanted to steal their tires.

"The attackers drove by in their vehicle," said Andrade Ramírez. "They approached, with the intention of stealing their vehicle and taking the tires and other parts to put them on the older-model pickup they were driving.

"When they (the foreigners) came up and caught them, surely, they resisted," she said. "And these people, the assailants, took out a gun and first they killed the one who was putting up resistance against the vehicle theft, and then others came along and joined the fight to defend their property and their companion who had been attacked, and they killed them too."

The assailants then apparently burned the foreigners' tents.

Jesús Gerardo, an alleged suspect in the case, is currently in prison while two others are in preventive detention as officials investigate the case further, authorities said. Jesús Gerardo, whose alias is "el Kekas," has a criminal record. 

Authorities have not ruled out the other two, a man and a woman who have not been identified, could be "directly or indirectly related to this case," Andrade Ramírez said.

The Pacific coast state of Baja California is a popular tourist destination that is also plagued by cartel violence. The U.S. State Department warns Americans should reconsider travel to the region because of crime and kidnapping.

On Wednesday, the Australians' mother, Debra Robinson, posted on a local community Facebook page an appeal for help finding her sons. Robinson said her son had not been heard from since Saturday, April 27.

Callum Robinson's Instagram page showed several images from the trio's Mexico trip: enjoying beers with their feet up in a bar, lazing in a jacuzzi, eating roadside tacos, looking out at the surf.

Callum, who was six-ffot-four, had played in the U.S. Premier Lacrosse League, which left a message on its website saying the lacrosse world was "heartbroken by the tragic loss" of the trio.

"We offer our hearts, support and prayers to the Robinson and Rhoad Families, as well as all who loved Callum, Jake and Jack," it said.

Jake Robinson was a doctor in Perth, according to Australian media.

AFP contributed to this report.

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